Category: Meetings/Events

Workshop for Transitioning Postdocs


We’re holding a two-day workshop for postdoctoral fellows that will help them transition to their first independent positions. It will take place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, March 11-12, 2010.

NIGMS Workshop for Transitioning to Independent Positions - March 11-12, 2010.  Registration deadline: Novermber 2, 2009The workshop is called “Advancing Biomedical Research Workforce Diversity: NIGMS Workshop for Postdocs Transitioning to Independent Positions.”

The agenda covers all stages of this transition process, from identifying the institutions that best fit their needs, to preparing for the job search, negotiating a start-up package, setting up a laboratory, applying for research funding, and receiving tenure. Although the focus of the workshop is on academic positions, participants will also have an opportunity to learn about other scientific careers. The workshop will emphasize special aspects of the transition process as they apply to postdocs with diverse backgrounds, especially those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

We want to provide a personal and meaningful experience for all participants, so attendance at this meeting is limited. Priority will be given to those who plan to complete their postdoctoral training within the next year and whose career plans would benefit from this workshop. Participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Applications are due by November 2, 2009. Individuals selected to attend the workshop will be reimbursed by NIGMS for travel and per diem expenses.

If you are a postdoc and believe this meeting would be of benefit, I encourage you to apply. If you are an investigator with eligible postdocs, I urge you to share this information with them.

Important Updates about the PSI:Biology Funding Opportunities


PSI:BiologySince my last post about PSI:Biology, I’ve received lots of questions about the initiative and the new funding opportunities. To answer these questions more broadly and encourage more applicants, we’re hosting a live videocast briefing on Monday, August 31, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. You’ll hear from Jeremy Berg, Cathy Lewis and myself.

Participants will have the chance to ask questions, make comments, get input on possible research projects and identify potential collaborators. You can use the live event feedback form on the videocast page, or you can send your questions in advance by e-mailing me or posting a comment here. If you would like to remain anonymous, please be sure to let us know so we don’t share your name during the briefing.

Screenshot of NIH Videocasting and Podcasting Web site

To watch the live event, go to next Monday and look for “PSI: Biology VideoCast Briefing” in the “Today’s Events” section. Later, you’ll be able to find the archived version of the briefing on the past events page.

A number of you have wondered if NIGMS can help you identify other researchers with whom you might collaborate to develop an application to establish one of the PSI:Biology partnerships. In response, we’ve established a Web form that will allow you to enter your name and contact information and a brief description of the research area for which you would like to apply. Participation is entirely up to you and is not a requirement for application. The form and the public page with submissions will be posted until the application deadline.

This brings me to my final update: We have extended the due dates for submitting letters of intent and applications. They are now September 28, 2009, and October 28, 2009, respectively.

UPDATE: We just issued an NIH Guide notice that includes some additional information. 

The Blossoming of Systems Biology

2009 Annual Meeting of the National Centers of Systems Biology

Earlier this week, I attended the annual meeting of our National Centers for Systems Biology, which was held at NIH. This was the 5th meeting since the program started in 2002, and one of its goals was to introduce NIH research staff and administrators to the exciting developments and applications of systems biology as well as the activities of the nine current centers.

Every year, I am more and more impressed with how systems biology has blossomed. This year, I was particularly pleased to see the sophistication and enthusiasm of the students and postdocs being trained at these centers. The junior scientists made a lot of new contacts over coffee and during the poster sessions, and the investigators benefitted greatly from interacting with each other, especially talking about how they handle the other goals of the centers program, such as outreach and training. A number of new collaborations were hatched.

The science presented by each center was very thought-provoking, especially the “lightning talks” delivered primarily by student presenters who had to get across the aim and conclusions of their research in just one or two minutes and using only one slide!

Outside the formal meeting, the investigators talked about the future of careers in systems biology and the professional paths of some of the students who have completed their training. It appears that the students aren’t having difficulty finding positions! There were some concerns that the intrinsically interdisciplinary nature of systems biology might pose some challenges as new hires seek to replicate the intellectual atmosphere, facilities and instrumentation that they became used to having. And, there was the question of how tenure would be handled in traditional departments with established boundaries. Most of the investigators thought that systems biology, like “molecular biology” before it, should be viewed as an approach, not a defined discipline, and that systems thinking would likely permeate the establishment as it matures.

I suspect that this year’s participants, like myself, experienced a strong sense of being part of a rapidly developing new wave of science. My overall impression is that the future of systems biology appears to be in good hands—an outcome we hoped for when the centers program was designed.

If you’re interested in systems biology and the abstracts of the science presented, you might check out our new portal for the centers, which made its debut at the meeting. It’ll be the clearinghouse for center activities and resources. It will also have a lot of information on available courses, lectures, research/job opportunities, funding announcements, available data and software.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Chemists: Snapshots from the Meeting of Nobel Laureates

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John Schwab here, reporting from the 59th Meeting of Nobel Laureates on the Island of Lindau on Bodensee, near the point where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet. Since 1951, the annual Lindau meetings have sought to educate, inspire and connect generations of scientists. There are 583 young scientists here from around the world, including about 70 graduate students from the United States. NIGMS is sponsoring the participation of 16 of these students, and this is the first year that NIH has joined DOE, NSF and others in supporting graduate students to attend.

Live Stream of the 59th Meeting of Nobel Laureates.  Watch the opening ceremony, lectures and the panel discussion live. Starting on Sunday, June 28th.This year’s meeting is dedicated to chemistry. As you know, NIGMS supports lots of basic science, which includes different “flavors” of chemistry. Many chemistry Nobel laureates are, or have been, NIGMS grantees. Several of them—such as Robert Grubbs, Richard Schrock and Roger Tsien —are among the 23 laureates attending the Lindau meeting.

During the week-long symposium, our students are networking with their international colleagues, being exposed to the entire spectrum of chemistry laureates and participating in discussions about science and society. The students are generally in their second or third year (some are in their fourth). They’re a very bright and motivated group. They’re experienced enough to understand much of the science, and they’re really excited to be here.

The talks so far have covered quite a range. Here are a few highlights:

  • Gerhard Ertl spoke about surface science and showed time-resolved images of individual atoms moving around and self-organizing on a surface. Amazing!
  • Sherwood Rowland and Paul Crutzen spoke about atmospheric chemistry, greenhouse gases and global warming. This was the science behind the project for which Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Very exciting yet sobering.
  • Ryoji Noyori gave a pure science talk about asymmetric catalysis.
  • Hartmut Michel spoke about the structure and function of cytochrome C oxidase, a membrane protein.

One of the most interesting and unconventional talks was given by NMR spectroscopist Richard Ernst and titled “Passions and Activities Beyond Science.” He talked about the inspiration and pleasure he has gotten from his study of Buddhism and Tibetan art. His interest ranges from history to culture to fine art to the science of restoration of ancient artwork. His message was an important one for the students: that science need not be the only passion of a productive and creative scientist—that being a scientist doesn’t have to mean being narrowly focused!

I’ve been enjoying “spreading the word” about what NIGMS is all about, and I’m looking forward to yet more stimulating science and fun interactions with a group of bright, creative students.